Choosing a Website Name While Keeping SEO in Mind

Choosing a website name for your business can be rather challenging these days considering all of the website names that are already taken.  There is a delicate balance between naming a site that helps in SEO and keeping it short and user friendly.  Here are 10 things to remember when choosing a website name.


1.  Pick something that the users can remember.

First of all, you want to have something that people can remember.  You want it to be catchy and drive the point home of what your site is all about.  Ask yourself if someone can remember what your website name is 5 minutes after you told them.  That is part of the reason I chose as my URL.  It’s easy to remember.

2.  Use a keyword phrase in the name (brand or offering).

Always use URL that contains a keyword phrase, if you can.  Sometimes it is the brand, but often branded URL’s are already taken, so you may have to choose a URL that reflects your key service line.  For example if your name was John Smith and you started Smith Law firm, is already taken.  At that point, you either have to choose something like for “Smith Law – New York City” or you could choose something that reflects your primary area of expertise, such as “”

3.  Watch for alternate meanings.

When choosing a website name, watch to make sure that the URL cannot have two meanings.  For example, could be interpreted as “therapist” or “the rapist”.  Obviously, this would not make a good website name.

4.  Reserve the website name for multiple years.

A factor used in rankings by search engines is the age of a website and how many years the name is reserved for.  You can’t do anything about the age of your website, unless you purchase one from someboyd else that already exists.  You can, however, reserve your website for multiple years.  I generally recommend that you reserve it for 3 years at a minimum.  This indicates to the search engines that you mean business and are in it for the long haul.

5.  If your name is already taken, check synonyms.

If you are having trouble finding a name that is already taken, check the thesaurus for terms that have similar meanings.  For example, an attorney website name for might have the word attorney, lawyer, advocate, etc.

6.  Watch out for trademarks.

Before you spend the time and effort to develop a website, make sure you search for other companies that might have similar names.  Try different variations of spelling your URL.  i.e. vs.  You have to use your imagination on this one, but sometimes, you will discover that your URL might get confused with someone else’s very easily.

7.  Avoid abbreviations, unless you have really good reasons not to.

Abbreviations in your URL may make it less of a job for the user to enter, but it generally does not help with SEO.  There are a few exceptions to that, such as large city initials like DFW for Dallas-Fort Worth, but for the most part, you should avoid them.  For example, if you reserved, “” for Smith Law firm specializing in patent law, may be easy to type, but it does not help the search engines identify what you do.  If you reserve, “”, you are covering the phrases “Smith Law” and “patent law” in the same URL.  Another variation would be “”.  I usually only recommend the dashes in a URL when you have not been able to find a suitable alternative, although the dashes would probably rank better than without them.  It’s a tradeoff between usability and SEO.

8. Rhyming dictionary

I have found that a rhyming dictionary can really come in handy when trying to find a URL that is catchy.  That is part of the reason that is named what it is named.  It’s catchy, easy to remember, and rhymes.  When I tell people the URL, they almost always make some sort of comment about how easy it is to remember.

9. Start the URL with the keyword phrase.

If you have the opportunity to start the URL with a keyword phrase, take it.  Generally speaking, the further left in the URL the keyword phrase is, the better.

10. Alternate spellings are not a good idea.

I’m amazed at how many people try to be cute with their URL and spell things unusually to set their brand apart.  The problem is that they miss out on prime SEO opportunities when they do that.  For example, if you have a website that sells kids clothing and you named it “” (with a “z” instead of an “s”), you will miss out on traffic generated by the keyword phrase “kids clothes”.


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I have over 27 years of experience in a very broad range of technologies. I spent seven years of my career performing search engine optimization consulting, web site redesigns, and measuring the success of web sites. I also automate manual business processes, spend a lot of time designing and implementing database solutions, and solving other technology challenges for my clients.

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